Op 5: No Child Left Behind…in Suburbia

Most people have heard of the No Child Left Behind Act. This act was created to ensure that all children in America can read , write, and do arithmetic; and while this is a very noble goal, the way this act is enforced leaves much room for improvement. The main stipulation of this Act is to only give funding to the schools in which students had been able to pass the standardized test given by the state. This is a great rule for schools in which the students are able to meet these requirements( i.e . schools in suburbia), but the schools for which this act was created ( the schools where the students are academically behind their grade level), still continue to suffer. This Act was created to motivate schools/teachers to get their students to academically function at grade level, however to achieve this goal schools need money, and when the government cuts funding for the schools who need it most, it is shooting itself in the leg.

The students who live in suburbia are raised by doctors, lawyers, and engineers. From birth, the importance of education was instilled in them. They go to school to learn, even if they aren’t in the mood, and all they need are teachers who can present information to them in a memorable way. Most schools which are struggling academically are located in poverty sicken neighborhoods, and the students who go to these schools only come to class to socialize. Nobody in their family had ever gone to college, and as long as they don’t fight and are able to pass class, their parents are thrilled. Many of these kids feel that it is more important to know what shoes are in style than the quadratic equation. These schools need teachers who not only are able to teach well, but are also able to motivate these kids to want to learn. To hire exceptional teachers a schools needs money (yes, there are exceptions, but we don’t make laws based on exceptions), and when the funding gets cut a school is forced to hire mediocre educators. However, giving all the funding to poverty-stricken schools while ignoring the schools in suburbia is also not a solution, the government should not punish the schools where the students are excelling.

Another disastrous effect of this Act is that schools lower their standards. Each state gets to decide what material goes on their standardized test, and ever since this Act was created, many states have rewritten their tests to make them easier. While it is understandable what drove these states to do this, we are living in a semi-global economy, and we want to raise the academic bar, not lower it. This situation is very reminiscent of the book Anthem by Ayn Rand, where equality meant that every body needs to be equal to the weakest link.

Even when standardized tests are not changed, the classroom suffers. Teachers are afraid of loosing their jobs, so the only way they can ensure that every student passes the test, is to only teach the information that is on it. It is a well known fact that with enough repetition most people can learn almost anything. While this type of teaching might get every single student to pass the test, that is the only skill they will have. They will not acquire any higher level knowledge, and this will leave them unprepared for college. While one can say, “well, at least they will know the basics,” many of these kids would have been able to pass the test anyway, and now that is the only skill they learned in school.

Although this act is based on good intentions, “all roads to hell are based on good intentions.” This Act is unable to achieve its goal, and while the idea of the Act is terrific, it needs to be heavily revised. How do you think the No Child Left Behind Act should be changed?

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8 Responses to Op 5: No Child Left Behind…in Suburbia

  1. While this type of teaching might get every single student to pass the test, that is the only skill they will have.

    Spot on. I was a sub in a poverty stricken district. So much emphasis is placed on passing those tests. The act also added paperwork to already overwhelmed teachers.

    I’m not for revising it. I’m for dumping it. Let the teachers get back to teaching what they should be learning for that grade – not just how to pass some standardized test.

  2. JT says:

    As stated by Spinny L. I think dumping it would be best. Throwing money at these issue has never been an effective way of dealing with (in my opinion) deeper issues. We can’t legislate morality, and as you mentioned, those who are brought up in an environment where learning is valued and promoted recognize the need, if not the desire, to learn. I would love to say that we could come up with a solution to address the shortcomings of those who either don’t value education or find the efforts towards education are not equal to the reward, but even if we could, it’s unlikely that it would be successful as a law or mandate. I believe it would have to come as a societal shift in thinking, ironically through education.

    • I agree that it is a futile task to use legislation to motivate kids to learn. However, I do believe schools can implement different types of programs that could show kids in poverty stricken neighborhoods the benefits of a good education, and knowing those benefits might motivate kids to learn.

  3. Students are individuals. Not everyone will meet the same goal at the same time. Thanks for being a voice of reason.

  4. rmv says:

    one problem is that the entire state takes the exact same test. do kids in newark need to know the exact same thing as kids on farms in woodstown or on long beach island? don’t think so.

    also, the test is poorly written. i know this because i’ve administered the test every year since it’s development and before. similar tests have been used since ’88. the tests are written very poorly, and the questions are difficult to understand. the 7th grade test has reading selections and questions that are written on a 12th grade reading level. how is that fair?

    the test will be gone soon because one of the stipulations of NCLB is that by 2015 EVERY student in every state will pass the test. meanwhile, we have kids who can’t even tie their shoes and wear diapers. trust me – they’re not going to pass the test, and obama knows it, and he’s going to dismantle NCLB a little at a time.

  5. Goodbye Reality says:

    Yeah, it is definitely not fair to have kids who haven’t mastered potty training, to try and pass the same test as everyone else. I believe that the test for special education classes should be altered.

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